how to change the world

How to talk about money?

By John-Paul Flintoff

It’s not always easy to talk about money. Many people find it excruciating. Recently, I made a film for a financial services company, in which I talked to young people about their own feelings about this awkward subject.

In most cases, there was blankness, and a general sense of unease – until we moved towards thinking how they would like things to be.

I asked them to look forward to a time in the future, and to describe how it will be. Perhaps even draw something. (More than one drew some kind of Caribbean island.) And then to tell me how much the thing they wish for might cost, and what they will need to do to get hold of the necessary funds by the time they say they want it.

You probably know already how scary it feels to make a commitment, in conversation with somebody else, to do something splendid. Well, these people could tell you, because they dared to say to me just what they hope to have, and to be. And they said it on camera. (I’ll share the film, if and when it becomes publicly available.)

Most importantly, I asked them at the end to reflect on the process. We had spent about 20 minutes talking about something that many of them, by their own admission, go out of their way to avoid talking – or even thinking – about. And yet by the end they were glowing. How to account for this? Again and again, they said that it was helpful to be pushed into doing this thing they didn’t want to do.

We spent two full days filming. I talked to a lot of people. Everyone was different, but looking back over the experience as a whole, I have to say it was one of the most vivid examples I expect ever to see of people experiencing resistance, facing it head on, and finding that everything looks much rosier on the other side.

Posted: October 10, 2016